A Paramedic's Guide to Hartford Takeout

When you work the ambulance, you are constantly on the move.  If you are hungry and want an alternative to your packed bologna sandwich or the usual fast food options, then this guide is designed to tell you what and where you can get interesting, delicious and quick food to eat in the city and surrounding towns.

To be listed, a restaurant has to serve good food, reasonably priced, and more or less, immediately available. You walk in, you get the food. No waiting ten or fifteen minutes, hoping you don’t get a 911 emergency call or a stat transfer before the food is ready. Aside from popping a pizza slice into the oven to heat for two minutes or slapping a sandwich together, everything in this guide should be ready to go within minutes.

I encourage to try some of these unique food places. Hartford is an incredibly diverse ethnic city whose inhabitants have brought cuisine from their native lands – Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Brazil, Italy, Dominicana, Columbia, Peru, India, Mexico and other lands prepared for our discovery. Enjoy.


Cosmos International
770 Farmington Avenue
West Hartford, CT
(860) 232-6600

This is an Indian supermarket.  In the back, there have prepared foods which they will heat and serve to you in Styrofoam cartoons.  They have a great $4.95 lunch special, one meat with rice, a side vegetable and Nan bread.  Very inexpensive and quick service.  I also often order the Mango Lassi drink.  It is a combination of mango juice and yogurt, and is also inexpensive.  While you are there, check out some of the snacks and nuts they sell.

Jahm Ske's

My favorite Jamaican restaurant is Jahm Ske’s (pronounced Jam-skis) on Albany Avenue in the McDonald’s Plaza. 1291 Albany Avenue. Monday-SAT 6AM-12AM, Sunday 8 AM – 11PM
(860) 246-7778

They are the busiest and most consistently good place I have been to. I often order breakfast there. Recently I had akee and saltfish, which is the Jamaican national dish. Ackee is a yellow fruit that looks like scrambled eggs. It is sauteed with saltfish (cod), onions and peppers. Breakfasts traditionally come with boiled green banana, yam, and dumpling. This dish will cost $10. Expensive, but very good.

If you want a cheaper alternative, order okra and saltfish or cabbage and saltfish, which will cost you $6 for a small size. The meal, thanks to the boiled green banana, yam and dumpling is very filling and will keep you full for hours.

Jahm Ske is also great for lunch and dinner. Jahm Ske’s jerk is not too spicy. Those who don’t like spice at all should order stew chicken, which is just stewed slow cooked chicken. Their oxtails are also delicious and the gravy is fantastic.

If you are looking for something extreme, try the Goat's Head Soup available on Fridays. Goat's Head Soup is made from goat brains with some vegetables and maybe some dumpling thrown in. It is considered an aphrodisiac.

Jahm Ske doesn’t serve pork products.

Comerio Restaurant

Comerio Restaurant
(860) 246-0210
158 Park St, Hartford, CT
Open 5:00 AM to 9:00 PM Seven Days a Week

This place has been open for over 30 years. It is right near Hartford Hospital so it is very convinient. They have lots of cheap, delicious Puerto Rican specialties ready to serve. Walk in the door and look in the heated glass case and take your pick. Alcupuria de Yucca (Roast pork in Fried Yucca, Relleno de Papa (meat in a potato ball), Bacalatito (Cod Fritter), Empanadilla, Sorullos de Queso (Cheese in Fried Corn Meal), and other treats in the $1-$2 range. If you are brave try the morcilla (blood sausage), mollejitas (chicken gizzards), chuchifrito (stewed pigs ears). You can also get arroz con pollo (chicken and rice) and lechon asado (roast pork.

Because it it so close to Hartford Hospital, you can call in a food order and pick it up when you clear. I like to call in for maduros (fried green plantain) which takes about ten minutes to make. They have daily meals of the day for $9.50. Usually rice and various meats.

Check out their menu here: Comerio


Bem Brasil Buffet

The Bem Brasil Buffet on South Whitney Street just off Park is my favorite place to get take-out in Hartford. I went in there several years ago, and as soon as I walked in the place, I felt every eye was on me, and everyone stopped talking. Who was this tall stranger in their clubhouse? I looked around for some clue about how to get food, but all I could see was a small buffet area, some plates, and some Styrofoam containers. There were no prices anywhere, and no one was volunteering to help me. I was uncertain if it was fill it up and pay one set set price or pay by the pound. I can speak Spanish, but not Portuguese, which is what I believed they were speaking when I first walked in before the place went silent. Still uncertain, I just nodded and walked back out.

Not to return until this past Spring, and only then after another medic had mentioned he'd worked with someone who had gone in there one day and walked out with food.

When I went in, I got the same silent treatment I'd had before. A soccer game was going on one big-screen TV and a Brazilian starlet was singing on another screen. There were several men drinking bottles of beer at the small bar, and three others sitting at a table in suspended conversation. This time I spotted a small cardboard sign with hand writing on it posted above the buffet. $4.99 lb. Carne $6.99 lb.

There were maybe 12 offerings in small heated buffet pans. I took a Styrofoam container and served myself some white rice, some sweet potatoes, and then added some kind of chicken simmered with okra, some short ribs and a pork sausage. I added some sweet plantains, folded the lid over and walked to the register where I handed it to a massive bearded strongman who stood behind the bar. He nodded, set it on the scale. I handed him a ten. He took it and handed me several dollars in change, put the carton in a plastic bag with a plastic fork with napkin. I nodded and walked out.

The food was unbelievably delicious. Meat moist and tender and flavorful. It tasted like home-cooking.

I have been back many times since. Still no conversations, but at least there is some recognition of me with nods when I come in. And the other patrons no longer stop talking when I come in. My sense is this is a local hangout for the Brazilian community, and not many other people wander in off the street. But believe me, it is worth it. There are many days when I should be trying new places, that I stop in here because I am hungry and want some home cooking at a cheap price.

The food there changes everyday. You never know what you are going to get, but there is usually always at least one variety of rice, beans, chicken, beef, pork, salad.

I went in there the other day near closing and the pickings were sort of meager. Still I served myself some rice, some chicken, a beef dish, and some steamed vegetables, and as always, they were awesomely delicious. And I got some conversation too. My partner bought three small shrimp cakes from the glass case by the register. Everything in the case is only $1.50. Again, very delicious. Homemade.

Restaurante Salvadoreño

Restaurante Salvadoreño
931 Campbell Avenue
West Haven
(203) 931-7457

Fri–Sat 11:00am–10:00pm

If you are down in West Haven on a VA run, when you get to the VA and have dropped your patient off, call 203-31-7457 and have them make you some papusas to go.  They will be ready by the time you have made your stretcher, used the head, and then driven down the hill to Campbell Avenue.  Take a left and it is right there on the right.

Papusas are thin circle of cornmeal with either cheese or meat in the middle.  They are delicious.

Here is what they look like:

They are $1.50 each.  Eat them on your way back to Hartford, but be careful because they will be hot!

EL Tepeyac

El Tepeyac
704 Broad Street
(860) 244-0324

Open 7 days a week.

El Tepeyac is a food stall in El Mercado.  It offers excellent, convinient Mexican food.  Some is already prepared, others such as the tacos, take only a few minutes.  Make certain you try some of the Mexican sodas, whiule you are there.  The sugar content is high, but the taste is quite good.  I particuarly like the mango soda.  Recently, I ordered tacos de pastor, which are spiced pork tacos with onions and pinneapple.  3 for $5.  Delicious.

Stretch's Pizza

Stretch's Pizza in Newington is fast becoming my favorite pizza place.  I had two slices of pepperoni this evening.  It it is thin crust new York style and quite good.  Takes only a few minutes to heat up once you order.

Stretch's Pizza
995 Main Street  Newington, CT 06111
(860) 667-9100

Sunday 1-8.
Closed Monday
Tuesday to Friday 11-10
Saturday 12-9

Jerk Pit Cafe

The Jerk Pit Cafe out on Main Street (near Tower) has the best jerk pork I have had outside of Jamaica. I order a half pound for $7. I get the jerk sauce on the side, and sometimes they give you a couple pieces of bread to go with it. The meat is slow-cooked, peppery, and moist. I dip it the pork in the jerk sauce or sometimes have them drizzle the sauce over the meat. The chicken is also very good. They offer the full array of Jamaican takeout dishes.

This place is open seven days a week and open late.
Jerk Pit Cafe
2940 Main Street
(860) 527-2214
Mon-Wed 11 am-12 mid.
Thursday 11 am-2 am
Fri & Sat 11 am - 5 am
Sun 2 pm - 2 am

Hibatchi Buffet

Hibachi Grill & Supreme Buffet 52 Kane St West Hartford, CT 06119‎ (860) 232-9998 This place is great if you are posted at P and K. Food is by the pound. Very inexpensive. they have 10 buffett islands with food.

Tastease Doughnuts

Tastease 70 New Park Avenue (860) 233-2235
Mini and Midi Doughnuts

If you like doughnuts, this hole-in-the-wall shop on New Park Avenue is the place. Tastease midi doughnuts (smaller than a regular doughnut, but bigger than a mini doughnut) are made fresh early every morning and hand-decorated by the husband and wife who own the place. In business for business for 8 years, they have 36 different varieties. They open at 7 on Tuesday through Friday and 8 on Saturday. They are closed on Sunday and Monday. While they are open until 3 each day, it is not unusual for them to sell out in an hour or less, particularly on Saturdays.

When I first went in, I asked for a half dozen, but, disoriented by the variety, I was completely unable to choose, so I finally said, just give me a dozen and you pick. Here’s what I got: pumpkin, apple with crème cheese, red velvet with raspberry crème, Oreo cookie, blueberry, orange juice, pancake, maple, lemon crème, swiss chocolate, and some others.

I usually don't even eat doughnuts. I was just going in to try the place because it was there. I ended up eating five in a matter of minutes and nine within the hour. They taste just like they are named. These are gourmet, filled with love and tender care, doughnuts. I tell people they are made by elves. The hardest part for me is deciding which one to eat. They taste so good, but they are so beautiful, I don’t want to destroy them; I just want to look at them and show them to people.

I am now a Johnny Appleseed of Tastee doughnuts. I buy a dozen or two (the doughnuts are put in pizza boxes) and I walk around handing them out to friends and strangers. I will leave a box in the EMS room of a hospital or at a nurse’s station. I will drop a dozen off to a friend with children. I’ll hand a box to the homeless men in the park across from the shelter. I feel like I am doing the world a good deed.

Midis are 50 cents each, a half dozen for $2.95, a baker’s dozen for $4.95. You can get one of each variety (called a 3-dozen gourmet platter) for $14.00. If you are worried about the doughnuts being sold out, you can call ahead the night before and put in an order that they will reserve for you.

You can also get breakfast sandwiches and minidoughts, which I haven’t tried yet, but they are always sold out by the time I get there.

Aqui Me Quedo

Aqui Me Quedo
622 Park Street
Hartford, CT 06106
(860) 522-1717

Aqui Me Quedo is one of the best Spanish restaurants in Hartford. It is great and quick to get food, ranging from pollo con arroz (chicken with rice) to empanadas and alcapurria.

An empanada is a meat filled pastry that is either fried or baked. Traditional Spanish empanadas are filled with beef or chicken. Aqui Me Quedo on Park Street serves pizza empanada (fried) that is quite good and surprisingly light. They call it un pastelillo de pizza.

Alcapurria is a deep fried yucca (a root vegtable sort of like potato), filled with pork.

A pizza empanada and one alcapurria cost me $3.75, As you enter the store, to your left, you will find these treats along with others in a heated glass display.

Sometimes, I just order the roast pork or roast chicken, which is sold by the lb. A half pound of roast pork is about $4.50.

Aqui Me Quedo II

Aqui Me Quedo II
150 Albany Avenue Hartford
 (860) 278-2033

The sister restaurant to the Aqui Me Quedo on Park Street, this one is conviniently located on lower Albany Avenue near Main Street. Very friendly. I go here quite often for the roast pork and yucca.

M&M Fresh Fruit Salad

M & M Fresh Fruit Salad truck is at 55 Jewel Monday through Friday from 10:00 A.M.-3:00 P.M. They offer several sizes of delicious fresh cut fruit. I usually get the Medium for $4. You get melon, cantelope, watermelon, pinnapple, strawberries and grapes. The truck also offers hot Vietnamesse cooking, but the fresh fruit is the main draw.

Los Adobes

Los Adobes
169 Park Street
West Hartford, CT 06119
(860) 231-1431

Los Adobes is an authentic Mexican restaurant on Park Street.  Fairly quick service and good food.

El Mercado

El Mercado
704 Park St
Hartford, CT 06106
(860) 247-6449

Open Seven Days a Week (until 7 PM, 5PM on Sunday)

If there is one place you visit in town for a Hartford ethnic food experience, it is El Mercado on Park Street. El Mercado means "The Market" in Spanish. El Mercado has a Spanish grocery store and four latin restaurants which are mostly cafeteria style with steam tables of preprepared food.

El Gran Dominicano (Dominican)

El Tepeyac (Mexican)

Antojitos Columbianos (Colombian)

Authentica Sabor Peruviano (Peruvian)

I confess I have only eaten at the Domincan and Columbian stalls so far. For years I ate only at the Dominican because I made friends with the woman who ran it. I had gone to the Dominican Republic twice on medical missions, so when I shared this with the people at the restaurant, we became friends and I always practiced my Spanish when I went there. That restaurant closed when the owner got another job, but it has been replaced by another Dominican stall, and the food is still quite good. My favorite order is roast pork (be sure to ask for a piece of skin), yellow rice, yucca and tostones (friend green plantain).

Here is a photo of roast pork (cerdo asado), yucca and tostones: